OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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June 7, 2011

Setting Up Windows 7
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, June 7, 2011.

I upgraded to Windows 7 at home a number of months ago, but only this week installed it in the office. It seemed like a good time, and with the benefit of hindsight, to describe in some detail the software environment I have set up myself. The article isn't done, but I figured that after a couple day's worth of work I had something to share - and could benefit from advice.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Microsoft]

The crusade against college
Ben Werdmuller, benwerd, June 7, 2011.

files/images/185925362_7e9a9c284d_z.jpg, size: 120567 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I think we need to manage the message a bit. This is the conclusion I draw after reading Ben Werdmuller's analysis of the 'crusade against college'. "There's been a lot of buzz in tech circles about college being a waste of time," he writes, giving a number of examples. But "if we are to lose faith in college degrees, how can we best represent what an individual is capable of?" Moreover, "if you take salaries away and look only at the overall education of a person, and the overall knowledge of our global society at large, don't universities have some inherent value?" He argues, and I agree, that they do. But - and here's the key point - maybe college (properly so-called) isn't the best way to achieve this end. Leaving aside the other (unsavory) purpose of the college system - to create an elite ruling class - it seems to me that while we may say 'college is not for everyone' we also want to say that 'a college education is for everyone'. The world does not divide naturally into geniuses and dullards; we divide it that way, and contribute in great measure to the creation of each.

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Their First 15 Minutes; Identity Day
George Couros, The Principal of Change, June 7, 2011.

files/images/1-300x225.jpg, size: 20594 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I really like the concept of an 'Identity Day', the idea that "that every single student and staff member would share something that they were passionate about and create some type of display or presentation to show this interest." Of course, for some of us, every day is Identity Day. :) Via Kelly Alford, who adds, "Identity Day shows how powerful social media is and how it can create the change in education we so desperately need."

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Scaffolding in Complex Learning Environments: What we have gained and what we have missed
Sadhana Puntambekar and Roland Hübscher, Unknown, June 7, 2011.

The authors argue, "by broadening the scope of scaffolding (in complex learning environments) we seem to have missed some of the key features that are crucial to successful scaffolding." Scaffolding was originally defined "by Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976) as an 'adult controlling those elements of the task that are essentially beyond the learner's capacity.'" But as the concept of the scaffold is moved into the classroom context, the individualized support is not possible. There's a quite good table showing this different starting on page 12. Scaffolds have become more task-focused, more like "permanent supports." The authors write, "we would like to emphasize that a 'support' becomes a 'scaffold' only when it is adaptive, based on an ongoing diagnosis of student learning." It's a good point and an interesting point. They identify four essential features these new supports may be missing:
- an ongoing diagnosis of the learner's changing knowledge and skills
- the dynamic and adaptive support provided to an individual learner
- a transfer of responsibility from the "scaffolder" to the "scaffoldee."
- scaffolding that is provided is based on an analysis of the process.
Via Stian Håklev, who also offers a summary of the article.

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Reading revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in academe
Barry W. Cull, First Monday, June 7, 2011.

files/images/img-landing-device-fam-168x260._V211499304_.png, size: 50604 bytes, type:  image/png What is the impact of reading digital text? It has a different character. "Skimming and jumping around from place to place within text is not limited to online reading, this type of reading appears to be the most common type of reading online." And it may have a different impact. "The process of reading on screen tends to be cognitively different from the process of reading on paper, in terms of brain activation, the contextual environment, cognitive focus, comprehension, and reading speed." But maybe the largest impact is on what happens when we are not thinking about reading. "Maryanne Wolf pointed out that 'the mysterious, invisible gift of time to think beyond is the reading brain's greatest achievement' ... By its ability to become virtually automatic, literacy allowed the individual reader to give less time to initial decoding processes and to allocate more cognitive time and ultimately more cortical space to the deeper analysis of recorded thought." In other words, we have to be more explicit about our reading practice when reading online, for various reasons (such as the nature of digital text, the volume of information, or the paratext) and this changes what we think about what we are reading.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Paradigm Shift]

Recommendations for a new Ontario Online Institute
Tony Bates, e-learning and distance education resources, June 7, 2011.

Tony Bates summarizes the proposal for a new Ontario Online Institute ("tucked away on the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities ‘In the spotlight' web page is a single line: June 3, 2011: Moving Forward with the Ontario Online Institute. This links to the report of the Special Advisor to the Minister, Maxim Jean-Louis). I've mentioned this process here on a number of occasions, as I was one of those consulted. The report recommends "the establishment of a not-for-profit corporation whose primary role will be to facilitate, enable and fund support for online learning in Ontario, rather than regulate, control or acquire assets, working alongside and leveraging existing ‘assets' within the system. It will not offer credentials nor duplicate or replace existing services (such as quality assurance)." There was (remarks Maxim jean-Louis in another document) a strong degree of consensus around this particular recommendation.

Note: in a summary last week I highlighted Tony Bates's article "For-profits, student loans, new rules, and how these affect students in the USA, Canada and the UK", but included the wrong URL. This is the correct URL, and my apologies to Tony Bates for the mix-up.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Schools, Great Britain, Quality, Canada, Online Learning]

Who Really Owns Your Photos in Social Media?
Kathy E. Gill, MediaShift, June 7, 2011.

files/images/twitpic.png, size: 114501 bytes, type:  image/png When you upload content to display on third party websites like Twitter, Facebook or Flickr, you necessarily give up some of your rights to that content. At the very least, the third party website has to have the right to display the content, otherwise, what's the point? But how much more do you give up? If it's Twitpic or Twitter, you grant them the right to license your work to third parties, including (say) newspapers with whom they may be affiliated. But other sites, such as Flickr, don't assume such extra rights, and even allow you to apply your own licensing to the work (such as Creative Commons licensing). This article is a good overview of the different licensing conditions offered by different photo sharing sites - they are not all created equal - and as a bonus links to a detailed comparison of the different terms and conditions.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Flickr, Twitter, Books, Google]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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